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Coronavirus and Domestic Violence: Your Options

Everyone is aware of, and has been affected by, the COVID-19 pandemic spreading throughout the world. As a result, North Carolina and other states across the nation have enacted stay-at-home orders, designed to slow the spread of the virus and keep our citizens safe. Other than essential work and activities, most of us are staying at home to flatten the curve.

Unfortunately, for some, the isolation and close quarters of a quarantine can result in an increase of domestic violence. It’s important for victims to know, though, that even though regular court sessions are closed across the state, emergency cases like domestic violence are still being heard by judges.

Some counties in North Carolina are already reporting an uptick in domestic violence cases. On the other hand, some say calls to hotlines and shelters are down, likely because some victims don’t know where to turn or where to go.

On April 3, 2020, North Carolina Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and Attorney General Josh Stein released a joint statement to the public, ensuring safety for victims of domestic violence.

“While sheltering in place helps keep us safe from the coronavirus, sadly, it puts others in greater danger,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “Some North Carolinians are just not safe at home – and we must do all we can to protect them. I am proud to work alongside Chief Justice Beasley in this effort to keep North Carolinians safe.”

Justice Beasley issued an order allowing orders of protection proceedings to go forward via videoconference or telephone when necessary – slowing the spread of the virus, providing protection for the victim, and due process for the defendant.

The statement also read, “The Chief Justice and Attorney General are also committed to jointly pursuing ways, by legislation and otherwise, to ensure domestic violence victims have access to the protections provided by our court system, including expanding access to electronic-filing for people seeking protective orders.”

When a judge does hear a domestic violence complaint, you may be granted a number of forms of emergency relief, depending on your specific situation. This could include rulings that:

  • The defendant stay away from the victim
  • The defendant leave the home
  • Grant the victim temporary emergency custody

If you need help: Domestic violence shelters are considered essential businesses in North Carolina, and must remain open during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence maintains a continually-updated document on domestic violence resources across the state.

Please contact our attorneys if you need help with an emergency protective order. If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. The attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC want to help ensure the safety of you and your family. Call us in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington at 704-321-0031, or visit our contact page, and schedule your consultation today.